A Christmas present was all it took for eight-year-old Sam Stosur to be placed firmly on the road to future tennis success.
Parents Dianne and Tony certainly don’t regret booking Sammy coaching lessons. For it was their foresight together with the wisdom of older brother Daniel, that led to her first trip abroad for a taste of the professional life. The World Youth Cup in Jakarta would both inspire her and push her on a year later into joining the Queensland Academy.
Within a couple of years, Sam would join the Australian Institute of Sport’s tennis program. She went on to form a successful coaching partnership with Craig Morris, travelling together on the WTA Tour. Craig has played a huge role in Sam’s career, both on and off the court and still remains a close personal friend.
The girl from Brisbane got her first big break at the 2006 Australian Open, reaching the fourth round. While she was trying to climb up the singles rankings, she was nearing the top in doubles. Sam became world no.1 in February 2006 after claiming a series of titles with doubles partner Lisa Raymond. The Australian–American duo won the US Open in 2005, and the French Open a year later.
Stosur won her maiden Grand Slam mixed doubles crown at the Australian Open in 2005 with fellow Queenslander Scott Draper and her second one at Wimbledon 2008 with Bob Bryan.
But in 2007 Stosur’s health alarmingly started to deteriorate. She began to feel lethargic suffering great pain at times. After falling in the first round of the US Open, she put an end to her season. In October, doctors were finally able to give her a reason for the pain and lethargy she had been feeling since Wimbledon – she had Lyme disease. Stosur also contracted viral meningitis, further shelving her plans to push for a place among the world’s elite.
Her courageous fightback saw her take to the court once more in 2008. – In September of 2009, Stosur’s comeback was complete when she made it to the final of the WTA event in Seoul. A year later she was winning her maiden singles title in Osaka, having reached the semi-finals of Roland Garros.
On the doubles court, Sam teamed up with Federation Cup teammate Rennae Stubbs to make the final at the Wimbledon Championships. In 2010, she became the first Australian woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final since Wendy Turnbull at the 1980 Australian Open. Sadly she was beaten at Roland Garros by the Italian Fransesca Schiavone, losing in straight sets 4–6, 6–7. However, on her route to the final she took care of three former world no. 1’s!
Stosur powered into the semis at Indian Wells and the quarters in Miami before winning in Charleston to add a second WTA singles title to her collection. She was a finalist at her next event in Germany and a quarterfinalist in Madrid. The year also saw her having a court named in her honour at Southport’s Queens Park Tennis Centre in Queensland.
But the 28-year-old is perhaps best known for winning the 2011 US Open singles title. Stosur defeated Serena Williams 6-2 6-3 for her first major championship. She became the first Australian woman to win a major title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley did so at Wimbledon in 1980. On her way to this remarkable Flushing Meadows victory, she endured the longest women’s match and the longest tiebreaker in the history of the tournament.
Sammy’s serve was and still is one of the most powerful on the women’s circuit. Her right handed play can be awesome at times. Stosur is ranked world no. 9 and her career high in singles is no. 4, which she achieved on 21 February 2011. She is a former world No. 1 on the WTA Tour in doubles. She has been a member of the Optus Australian Fed Cup team since 2003 and is coached by the team’s captain, David Taylor.
Her favourite surface is hard court but Sammy has also mentioned her least favourite surface is grass and this is mostly because her biggest weapons (top-spin forehand & kick-serve) are not very effective on this surface. Her performances at Wimbledon have reflected this, as she has only gone past the second round once on the lone grass-court Grand Slam event.
Away from the court Sam likes going to the beach, hanging out with friends, surfing and listening to music. She remains of course one of the most popular players on the circuit and one of Australia’s favourite sporstwomen.